No. 17 Redbirds Down Wichita State, 9-3, Prevent Series Sweep
April 1, 2007
WICHITA, Kan. - Led by senior Kelsey Warning, the No 17 Illinois State softball team got back to its old offensive ways on Sunday against Wichita State at Wilkins Stadium, taking down the Shockers, 9-3 and saving the series sweep. Warning went 3-of-4 on the afternoon, smacking a home run and tallying two singles to lead the offensive lineup that produced eight hits in the victory.
With the win, the `Birds improve to 30-9 on the year, 8-3 in the Valley. Wichita State moves to 18-23 overall, 6-5 in MVC play.
Illinois State head coach Melinda Fischer felt her team saw and hit the ball more consistently in Sunday's third game.
"We put the ball in play much better than we did yesterday and that was something we talked about and was a focus of today's game," said Fischer. "Going into that fourth inning, we only had one key hit from Kelsey (Warning) and then Kara (Nelson) got that other key hit to push the lead to six. We also talked about getting big hits in key situations and hitting with two outs, I think we did both of those things much better today."
The Redbirds wasted no time setting the tone of the game on Sunday, as Tiffany Prager and Jessie Buker drew two quick walks off Wichita State starter Margo Pruis. Warning then stepped to the plate and took an outside fastball over the left field wall for her 12th home run of the year. Warning's three-run shot gave the senior right fielder 41 RBI on the year and provided the `Birds with their first lead of the weekend, 3-0, and pushed the team long ball total to 50. After walking ensuing batter Amber Smith, Pruis, a senior right hander, who only allowed three walks in two ballgames yesterday, was taken out after lasting just one-third of an inning. Ashly Bright came in to relive Pruis.
Wichita State threatened in the bottom of the second, putting runners on first and second. Shocker catcher Kara L'Huillier laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third but Redbird pitcher Stacy Birk struck out Lindsie Mitts for the second out of the inning. Elissa Zeches came to bat in the RBI opportunity but didn't get the chance as Birk threw a pitch that hit off catcher Casey Gorrell's glove and rolled toward the Wichita State dugout. Pinch runner Lauren Coleman charged home as Birk ran to the plate to cover. Taking the well-placed throw from Gorrell, Birk tagged Coleman before she crossed for the third out.
With the bases loaded and two out in the top of the fourth, Kara Nelson stretched the Redbird lead to 6-0 when the freshman leadoff hitter roped a three-RBI triple into deep right center field. Birk, Gorrell and Jackie Williams, who all drew walks to get on base, crossed to score.
Britnee Barnett started the game at shortstop for the Shockers but moved into the pitching circle in the fourth inning. Her duties didn't stop there as the junior smacked a home run over the left center field wall in the bottom half of the inning for WSU's first run of the game. Wichita State went on to add a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth when designated player Cynthia Verhulst hit a two-RBI single into right field, over the glove of Redbird second baseman Prager.
Warning added RBIs five and six of the day with a single up the left field line in the top of the seventh. Nelson, who opened the inning with a single through the middle of the infield, and Prager scored on the play, making the score 8-3, in favor of ISU. Andrea Shifflet came in to pinch run for Warning and crossed on a Gorrell sacrifice fly to right field to push the Redbird lead to six, 9-3, heading into the bottom of the seventh.
But Shannon Nicholson, who came in to relieve Birk with two outs in the bottom of the fourth, held the Shocker lineup and retired three straight batters to secure the win. Nicholson recorded the win in the circle for the `Birds, moving to 12-4 on the year. The right-hander gave up just four hits and struck out three of the 15 batters she faced.
Illinois State has five days rest before returning to Redbird Softball Complex to host MVC foe Bradley for a three-game series. In light of the Easter holiday, the Redbirds and the Braves will play a single game on Friday at 5 p.m. in Normal, before doing battle in a doubleheader at noon on Saturday, April 7.